What does the La Russa extension really mean?

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Bernie Miklasz has a great column up over at the Post-Dispatch today, analyzing the announcement that Tony La Russa is coming back to the Cardinals next year. More specifically, analyzing the part of the announcement in which it was revealed that bullpen coach Marty Mason was not coming back.

A small detail to outsiders — I almost ignored it completely when I read about it yesterday — but Miklasz explains how that seemingly small move has big implications for the Cardinals. How it plays into what appears to be an ongoing power struggle between the front office on the one hand and La Russa and his coaching staff on the other. Miklasz goes one further by noting how La Russa’s one year + option extension may leave some of his coaches wondering where they fit in the world.

This is all very inside baseball of course, but it’s fascinating inside baseball.  Every team has a dynamic like this, and only a select few people are truly aware of it. An even smaller select few of those people are willing to write about it, but Miklasz does here.  Cardinals fans are better off for knowing it and the team will be much more interesting to watch because of it.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.